David Hilton, the US-born designer who has been working in Europe for many years, most recently as Strategic Design Director at Chang An, is moving to Shanghai to run the brand new GAC design studio in Shanghai. He will become Director Advanced Design Shanghai and Strategy Director GAC.
Fan Zhang (VP and Head of Design GAC R&D – see our interview with him here) and David confirmed the move to Maorinews News, noting that David will most likely take up the role in mid-October 2018. He will head up the new Shanghai studio, but also have a more strategic purpose in the design group.
“I have always wanted to combine advanced and strategy design as one working unit,” David explained. “Doing this at GAC will be unique in our business, and also help to give a competitive edge on creative efficiency for the company.”
During David’s tenure at EV company Nio (2015-17) he designed the electric supercar EP9. He has also worked for Ford and Bentley Motors and designed as an independent consultant.
When he takes up his new role at GAC, in which he will report to Fan Zhang, he will be “solidifying the corporate DNA from the top-level must-wins, down to the unique GAC identifiable details, then proving out this DNA recipe via physical concepts or prototypes. Similar to a chef in a kitchen who works with and co-creates the restaurant’s cookbook, these two disciplines work hand-in-hand,” he told CDN.
“Every brand has its unique story, and some brands are better than others at telling it,” he said. “I am really looking forward to supporting the GAC teams in solidifying the individual story, and also turning it into modern designs which only GAC can own. And, of course, evolving this story into the future.” He continued, “there is just so much opportunity in China right now, which is probably why so many Western designers have been heading East over the last three years or so... it’s obviously a time of big change in China and our industry.”
We couldn’t agree more.
David will be mostly based in Shanghai in GAC's new studio, but will also travel to the corporate HQ in Guangzhou in his strategic role. The Shanghai studio (full story due here on CDN shortly) gives GAC a foothold in the creative heartland of the Chinese market, complementing the firm’s design HQ in Guangzhou and its LA studio, which opened in 2017.
David joins new hire Sandy Hartono in the Shanghai studio. Sandy moved from his Munich-based interior design job with Hyundai to GAC in August this year to head the Interiors team. Before working for Hyundai, Sandy worked at Mercedes-Benz design, where he first met Fan Zhang.